Town need to sort out mess - quickly

IF an explanation was needed as to why a number of managers didn't fancy the Ipswich job, and why Tony Mowbray shunned the chance to return but then jumped at the opportunity to take charge at West Brom, then it was given in uncompromising terms in these 90 minutes.

By Derek Davis

IF an explanation was needed as to why a number of managers didn't fancy the Ipswich job, and why Tony Mowbray shunned the chance to return but then jumped at the opportunity to take charge at West Brom, then it was given in uncompromising terms in these 90 minutes.

The Baggies already look genuine contenders to return to the Premiership and the framework behind this squad is obvious.

On the other hand, this Ipswich side don't even look as if they will trouble the contenders for the play-off places.


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Over the past six weeks we have seen the good and bad of the Blues. The good was against the likes of Birmingham and Sunderland, with performances to be proud of. The bad have been in the last two games when they have been humbled by Colchester and humiliated by the Baggies.

If the shell-shocked supporters get a repeat of the last two displays when Town take on Preston tomorrow, then another hatful of goals against will follow.

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Conversely, if Jim Magilton can wake his side up and get them into battling mode then they could surprise the team that have gone nine league games in a row without defeat.

But Ipswich really need to sort themselves out.

Yes, the Baggies looked good, perhaps down to a combination of good preparation from dead man walking Nigel Pearson, the urge to impress the new boss Tony Mowbray, sitting in the directors' box, and the generosity of a team who gave the visitors the freedom of the town.

West Brom had not won away in 13 attempts since last January, while Ipswich had not lost at home in their past three matches, so the gulf in class was frightening.

Of course, wallowing at Championship level for so long has not helped Town, who have had to cut their wage bill to below £5m (still five times more than Colchester's) while the Baggies, fresh from the top flight and boosted by a parachute payments, spend more than £20m annually on wages alone and so can afford better quality stars.

Certainly, Kevin Phillips and Diomansky Kamara exploited the gaping holes in the Blues' backline, while Jason Koumas and Co were allowed to roam at will through a shambling midfield.

While Jonathan Greening and Darren Carter looked Premiership quality in the middle, Sylvain Legwinski looked anything but. The evidence so far is that Chris Coleman at Fulham knew what he was doing by allowing the Frenchman to leave.

Legwinski and Simon Walton together is not working and, certainly, the on-loan Charlton midfielder looked far more impressive before Legwinski's arrival and works far more effectively when he has got Gavin Williams with him.

The absence of the injured Williams, who would have been suspended for this match anyway, was clear and even Mark Noble could not offer inspiration, even with his long raking, and usually accurate, passing.

The Baggies defence were too good to allow Darren Currie much opportunity to put in any decent balls and, in general, the Blues lacked any width.

The lack of service meant Alan Lee and Billy Clarke getting frustrated and the only glimmer from Town, who did not have a single effort on target all afternoon, came when Jason De Vos headed powerfully from his own half. Clarke raced through and, against probably any other side, would have got clear but Curtis Davies is incredibly quick and the player coveted by a number of Premiership sides was able to nick the ball away from the Irishman.

Unfortunately for him it rebounded straight off Chris Perry's shin and rolled past the wrong-footed Swiss keeper Pascal Zuberbuhler.

The own goal had levelled after Kamara had exposed Richard Naylor's lack of pace when he beat him in a race to reach Koumas' through ball before beating Lewis Price with a powerful low shot.

After enjoying such a good game for Wales in midweek, Price was left reeling behind a defence that could not cope with Albion's pace and movement.

Price had taken a Koumas free-kick at the second attempt before another ball from a similar position was angled slightly further away from him and the diminutive Kevin Phillips was able to rise unmolested to steer in Albion's second.

Cue much finger-pointing and shouting among the defenders. The organisation was not much better after the break when a ball from Phillips ripped open the Blues again as Kamara flitted past a stranded De Vos before rounding Price and sliding the ball in.

The Baggies even took advantage of Town's rare attacks by countering from their corners.

Zuberbuhler cleared his own lines quickly with a long ball out for Zoltan Gera, who sprinted down the right flank before crossing perfectly for Phillips, arriving at pace, to power another header home.

It was a goal of sunning brilliance and simplicity that epitomised their confidence and Ipswich's weaknesses.

With the game effectively won, Albion meandered through the latter stages, keeping a disjointed and demoralised Ipswich at bay before Phillips completed his hat-trick after being allowed to surge forward and then curl in a shot from the edge of the area.

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